Thursday, July 31, 2003

MOONLIGHT SHADOWS: Mike Oldfield - a man whose first records were funded by a bloke who'd made his initial cash by selling 'pirated' music (Branson was flogging records intended for the continent in the UK and saving on the taxes) - is interviewed by Guardian Online as yet another re-release re-formatting of Tubular Bells looms into view, and he comes across as amazingly out of touch:

Is the internet a threat to the music industry?
You only have to look at the front of Music Week to realise the music industry is in crisis. People aren't buying records because it is so easy to copy them. They download all their tracks and listen to them for nothing.

Well, if you look at the cover of Music Week, it tells you that the Major Labels are in crisis, which isn't quite the same thing - just because Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal don't win matches in the same week doesn't mean that all the teams in Division Three have lost as well. But have you noticed that Mike Oldfield has already got confused between 'copying' records and 'downloading' them?

What if people could pay for music online using services such as Apple's iTunes?
You can already buy albums from Amazon. Ahem... 'you can already buy albums from Amazon'

Yes, Mike. You can do that. Perhaps you haven't quite grasped that some people actually wake up and think "I'd like to hear 'Wild Thing' right now" and so want something a bit more immedeate than waiting three days for the postman to arrive? And that that's a possibility that technology has given us? And that it's that ability to deliver music now, and the failiure to seize the advantages of that, which has lead to the Big Labels falling behind?

Does Oldfield really mean what his reply implies - that he doesn't agree with downloading at all, and that he thinks all music should be delivered, encoded in plastic? Apparently not:

But if people want to buy tracks online I don't see a problem. It's just the piracy - it's massive in Europe. That's why record sales are down 50%.

Excuse me? Down fifty percent? Even the dying VHS Music format only dropped by 42% last year - and that was more than offset by a swelling in DVD sales. Argentina had a very bad year, but there the fall was only a quarter, not a half. Fifty percent is just an absolute nonesense. [source: BBC/IPFI]

Why were so many fans outraged when Tubular Bells was released recently with digital copyright protection?

If people are used to buying one copy and then making 50 copies on their PC, they are going to be a bit fed up, aren't they? They can still copy it with analogue. It just won't copy digitally. It has only caused a couple of comments on the fan websites because someone can't copy it and pirate it.

You're flattering yourself if you think anyone is going to burn fifty copies of an album that Everyone Who Wants Already Has. And you're missing the point - digital copyright protection doesn't just piss off people who are trying to pirate your music; it pisses off legitimate users - your fans - who suddenly discover that they've paid fifteen bucks for a record they can't play. According to the Campaign for Digital Rights, Tubular Bells 2003 won't play properly on a lot of CDs; managed to screw up one person's uninstall facility (so that now he can't get rid of any software on his PC at all); appears to have been responsible for a burning smell on a hitherto perfect DVD-ROM drive on more than one occasion. This is leaving aside the whole question of If I buy a CD, why shouldn't I be allowed to copy it to my Rio player?

Oh, and by the way:
I'm a born-again biker. I've just bought a 600cc Yamaha Fazer and have joined the Fazer owners club online. The sites and are great for getting tips from other model helicopter enthusiasts and buying the kit.
... let us know how that midlife crisis works out, pal.

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